Needles and syringes distributed per person who injects drugs
Progress in improving the coverage of needles and syringes provided, an essential HIV prevention service for people who inject drugs
Injecting drug use is the main route of transmission for about 10% of the people acquiring HIV globally and 30% of those outside sub-Saharan Africa. Preventing HIV transmission caused by injecting drug use is one of the key challenges in reducing the burden of HIV.
Needle and syringe programmes are one of nine interventions in the WHO, UNODC and UNAIDS comprehensive package for the prevention, treatment and care of HIV among people who inject drugs.
Needle and syringe programmes greatly enhance HIV prevention for people who inject drugs, and a wealth of scientific evidence supports its efficacy in preventing the spread of HIV.
Number of needles and syringes distributed in the past 12 months by needle and syringe programmes
Number of people who inject drugs in the country
Programme data used to count the number of needles and syringes distributed (numerator)
Estimation of the number of people who inject drugs in the country (denominator)
Every two years
Cities and other administrative areas of importance
If there are subnational data available, please provide the disaggregation by administrative area, city, or site in the space provided. Submit the digital version of any available survey reports using the upload tool.
Some difficulties in counting needles and syringes are reported. Some commonly used syringes are 1-ml or 2-ml needle and syringe units; others are syringes to which needles need to be fitted. In most cases, only data on the number of syringes distributed by needle and syringe programmes but not pharmacy sales are available.
Estimating the number of people who inject drugs at the country level presents challenges. People who inject drugs are defined in many ways, and the estimates have ranges. The UNODC publishes estimates of the number of people who inject drugs in the World drug report. These estimates may be used. If there is a reason not to use them, please provide the rationale in the comment field.
Countries that have legalized sales of needles and syringes without a prescription may appear to have artificially low coverage with this indicator.
Countries can monitor this indicator against the following coverage levels:
- Low: <100 syringes per person who injects drugs per year.
- Medium: 100–200 syringes per person who injects drugs per year.
- High: >200 syringes per person who injects drugs per year.
These levels are based on studies in low- and middle-income countries investigating the levels of syringe distribution and how these affect HIV transmission. The levels required for preventing hepatitis C are likely to be much higher than those presented here.
KP.2 Needles and syringes distributed, 2020, WHO Consolidated HIV strategic information guidelines: driving impact through programme monitoring and management (https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/consolidated-hiv-strategic-information-guidelines).